The Heart of Laos

An adventure to the jewel of South East Asia

In the heart of verdant serenity, where whispers of the mystique permeate the air, a land emerges from the embrace of time’s enigmatic currents. Veiled in emerald splendor, Laos, a tapestry of enigmatic tales, unveils its secrets to those who tread its hidden pathways. Enchanted by the languid flow of the Mekong River, ancient spirits dance amidst the ancient temples, their sacred whispers echoing through the its spiritual realm. Legends and rituals intertwine, mirroring the undulating mountains that guard untold wonders. Within the shadowy depths of lush jungles, where secrets whisper and flora pulses with enigmatic energy, Laos unveils itself as a riddle waiting to be deciphered, a mosaic of enigmatic beauty that captivates the soul of the curious wanderer.

On this Laos adventure tour from the capital of Vientiane in the south to Luang Prabang, the soul of Laos in the north get lost in the beauty of Laotian landscapes and culture. Embrace the ethereal charm of Vang Vieng, where limestone cliffs tower above turquoise waters, painting a picture of serenity and adventure intertwined. Wander the many serene temples, explore mysterious caves and learn about the local people and their lives.

Travelling mostly by local train on this adventure tour through Laos will give you a chance to meet and experience the warmth of the people and stay in locally owned and operated traditional hotels for complete immersion in Laos’ amazing culture.


  • Explore the chilled out city of Luang Prabang, wander its small streets, funky restaurants and tour the temples of the soul of Laos.
  • Visit the rustic town of Nongkiew on the banks of the Ou River and pause on the journey from Luang Prabang to explore Laos’ hill villages
  • Pay your respects to the Emerald Buddha and wonder at the gilded temples in the capital Vientiane
  • Ride the rails through the countryside as we travel between our destinations by train, allowing us to mingle with the friendly local people
  • Embrace nature and explore caves, the Blue Lagoon and small town life in Vang Vieng
  • Learn about textile weaving from the Tai Lue people, take a shot of Lao Laos at the whiskey village, as well as learn about the conservation of the Asiatic Bear at Kuangsi Bear Rescue Centre.

The Basics

Start: Vientiane

Finish: Luang Prabang

Trip style: Unique

Max group size: 10

10 Days


$2797 AUD*

Departure date: 17 October 2023

OR CONTACT US for more information

Trip code: HLVL *from


We begin our Laos adventure tour in Vientiane where you will meet your waiting transfer on arrival at the airport. Check in to the hotel and in the evening meet your travelling companions and trip leader for a special welcome dinner. Either before or after dinner you may wish to take some time to browse the Night Market which is with in walking distance to our hotel.

This morning we start our exploration of Vientiane by observing the sacred rituals of Buddhism at Wat Sisaket Temple which is the most holy monastery of the city. The temple has never been destroyed by an invasion, which is uncommon in Laos. Many of the images of Lord Buddha displayed here are original and have never needed restoration. Across the street from Wat Sisaket, is Haw Prakeo, the highly revered Emerald Buddha which we will visit next and pay our respects.

Our next stop will be the That Laung Stupa, a landmark of Laos since the time of the Lanxang Kingdom. The gilded stupa signifies the most holy place for the Laotian people. We will also visit the Victory Gate of Patuxay, the pride of Laos, it was built to commemorate those who fought for the freedom of Laos against France.

Just prior to lunch we will journey to the south of Vientiane to visit Buddha Park. The park was founded in 1958 by the monk and sculpture artist Bounluasulila.

Bounluasulila studied both Buddhism and Hinduism and as a result you will find a mix of Buddha, and Hindu gods, deities, demons, and animals from both doctrines. The statues are as impressive in size as they are in detail. Standouts at Buddha Park include a 40-metre reclining Buddha, Indra (a Hindu god) a two headed elephant, and a four armed deity riding a horse.

After lunch you have free time to relax by the pool or stroll around the city.

After breakfast, the Laos adventure tour continues as we are transferred to the train station to begin our journey to the town of Vang Vieng. Translated it means to nestle or the cradle of our hometown or country.

Weather permitting, today we will visit Thamnangnone – the Angle Cave. This beautiful limestone cave has many stories and you may see faces and other shapes that many believe hold hidden lives. This is a beautiful spot for a swim so make sure to bring your swimmers along today.

After visiting the cave, a traditional Barbeque lunch will be served on a charming terrace by the bank of the Nam Song River.

This afternoon we will sail down the river to visit Tham Jang, another beautiful limestone cave.

On arrival in the small town of Vang Vieng you can stroll around and see just how the local people live, we may even be treated to a magical sunset over the imposing mountain range.

Today we take a short drive outside the town taking in the mountainous scenery of this city built on limestone, to the Blue Lagoon. The lagoon is located deep inside the limestone peaks in a spectacular setting. It has cool, clear water which is very refreshing on a humid day. If an adventurous mood strikes you, you may wish to take a ride on the zipline which deposits you into the water at the end.

We will return to Vang Vieng in the early afternoon, the remainder of the day is yours to explore on your own.

We will depart early this morning for the train station and travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Listed city of Luang Prabang. The journey takes approximately two hours travelling through tunnels and winds through the lush countryside.

On arrival, we will start with a visit to the official residence of the King. The former royal palace was built in 1904 in a style that reflects French influences, combined with the traditions of Laos. It houses a collection that includes furniture, ceremonial and religious artifacts, gifts from foreign envoys, as well as the Prabang buddha image, a solid gold 1st century standing buddha from which the town derives it name.

Our next stop will be the Watmai temple which has stood since 1797. The five- tiered roof is architecturally typical of the ancient temples in Luang Prabang and is noted for the richly decorated gold relief that adorns the walls. Each Laos new year the Prabang is moved to Watmai from the former king’s palace. It is then put on public display so the people can wash the buddha image and make offerings to gain merit for the year ahead.

We will spend the remainder of the day visiting the other major sites of Laung Prabang including Wat Aham with its sacred Banyan trees, Phousi hill for an amazing vista of the city and the 20m high Wat Chomsi Stupa.

We will end the day with a visit to the Xiengthong temple, Luang Prabang’s most magnificent temple and arguably one of the most beautiful temples in Laos.

Optional experience: 5.30am Alms giving in the main street of Luang Prabang

After breakfast this morning we will visit the local fresh food market which is on every morning in Luang Prabang. The market is a must see for food lovers and those who wish to get a taste of local life. You will find a vast selection of seasonal fruits, vegetables, meat and fish as well as many other local delicacies.

The main attraction we will visit today is the spectacular Kuangsi waterfall which is about 25km outside Luang Prabang. Falling over a 60 meter high cliff and tumbling gently through a series of brilliantly aquamarine pools which have been formed by mineral deposits in the water, Kuang Si is Laos’s most famous waterfall. Set amongst picturesque jungle and offering a tranquil break from town life, you will be able to take a refreshing swim in the crystal waters of the lowers pools and climb to the top of the main falls.

In the afternoon we will spend some time visiting the Tat Kuangsi Bear Rescue Centre, a sanctuary for Asiatic Black Bears liberated from the illegal wildlife trade.

Take a step back in time as we visit caves in the cliffs on the Mekong River at Pakou better known as the Cave of 1000 Buddha’s. The 16th century cave monastery is located 25 Kilometers north of Luang Prabang. Getting to the caves across the Mekong River means a scenic boat ride with great views of the limestone mountains and riverside life.

The caves have been a place of worship for centuries, as people believed they are inhabited by the spirits of the river. According to Laos legend, the caves were discovered by King Setthathirath, one of Laos’ greatest Kings.

On the way back to the city we will stop at Xanghai, Laos’ traditional Whiskey village. It is famous for Lao Laos (homemade alcohol) which is available for tasting and purchase. Lao-Laos is an integral part of Lao culture. In important blessing ceremonies or a village visit you will likely be offered a shot of the firewater (or a large glass!) no matter what time of day. Accepting a shot or even a sip is a sure way to make fast friends with the locals. It’s also a sure way of instantly growing chest hairs! It’s impressive how rudimentary and traditional the method is, still using an open fire and earthen jars. There are different types of Lao Laos, the white one is by far the most lethal. If you’re keen for some shopping a variety of handicrafts are also on sale in the village.

This morning we start with a drive around 1.5 hours to Dongeune village for a boat trip to Nongkiew on the way we stop at hill tribe villages including the village of Khmu.

We will arrive in Nongkiew in time for lunch. This afternoon we will see the sights of the city including the Tamphatok and Phakuang Caves.

We will start early today with a climb to the Phasomnang viewpoint to the the sunrise and a 360 degree view of the Muangngoi district.

After the sunrise we will take a boat to Muangngoi, a picturesque little fishing village one hour up stream from Nongkiew. Our next visit will be to the village of Sopjam a Tai Lue village where we will be introduced to traditional Laotian textile weaving. The Tai Lue people have many communities throughout Laos and Thailand, often as farmers living in simple stilt houses. Tai Lue women wear long colourful sinhs and typically wear their long black hair done up in a fan-like bun on top of their heads. They are well known for their ornate motifs woven into silk and cotton textiles.

After our village visit we will visit the Thamdang cave which can only be accessed on foot. We will stop for lunch before heading back to Muangngoi through the forest and paddy fields. Before boarding the boat back to Nongkiew, you may wish to do as the locals do and bathe in the Nam Ou.

We will arrive back in Luang Prabang in the early evening.

Your adventure in Laos comes to an end with a transfer to the airport in Luang Prabang.

Laos Adventure Tour - Trip Map
Trip Map
The Heart of Laos


Duration: 10 Days

Trip style: Unique

Group size: Minimum 4 / Maximum 10

Trip code: HTDD

Cost: $2797.00 AUD twin share

Single supplement: $1100.00 AUD


  • 9-nights accommodation in traditional and locally operated hotels
  • Airport transfers on arrival and departure
  • Tickets Vientiane – Vang Vieng and Vang Vieng – Luang Prabang
  • Meals as specified in itinerary (B = Breakfast / L = Lunch / D = Dinner)
  • Services of your Inverted Atlas trip leader and local guides
  • All entrance fees as per itinerary     

Trip price does not include

  • International airfares or domestic airfares
  • Visa for Laos
  • Meals not included as per trip itinerary including drinks and mini bar
  • Additional accommodation before or after the tour
  • Items of a personal nature including but not limited to laundry, souvenirs, porterage etc.
  • Travel insurance – please note comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas

Journey Rating – Quest

This is an adventure tour to Laos a wonderful colourful country but one where things might not always go to plan and should you definitely pack your sense of adventure and more importantly your sense of humour. There are a few very long travel days where we will be getting up early and arriving into our accommodation quite late, but never fear – all the accommodation is of a comfortable standard with no sharing or camping. We will mostly travel by train on this trip, which gives you a chance to mingle with the local people.

The quality of amenities such as hospitals and pharmacies will be limited to large cities. Be prepared for eastern-style squat toilets in public places (not hotels). The weather is likely to be a very comfortable 20 degrees with some slight humidity.

A note about fitness

This is an adventure tour to Laos and as such requires a reasonable level of physical fitness. You should be able to walk up to 2.5km during scheduled sightseeing, climb up to 200 stairs unassisted, use an eastern style squat toilet (beware if you have knee issues) and confidently walk over uneven surfaces. You will need to be able to carry your own luggage to and from the coach/bus, as well as on and off the trains. (Due to OH&S regulations our trip leaders are not able to assist with luggage.) There are also a couple of activities which require a short amount of easy grade hiking through forests at an incline.

In addition, you should be in good health, with no major chronic conditions requiring frequent medical attention. This trip sometimes travels through remote locations where the availability of a hospital or even phone reception to call an ambulance is limited. While all our trip leaders are required to have a valid first aid certificate, they are far from doctors and any assistance they are able to provide will be limited to basic first aid. For more information please see our booking conditions.

Single supplement

Traveling by yourself? No problem, we love single travelers and don’t believe in penalising them by charging half the trip price again for our single supplement. With us you are only paying the actual cost to have a room all to yourself. If you’re up for making a new friend, you can elect to share with another single traveler of the same sex and only pay the twin-share price. The choice is yours!

Trip leader description

Accompanying you on your adventure tour to Laos will be your Inverted Atlas trip leader. Your trip leader is a logistics extraordinaire, keeps the trip running smoothly and ensures you have the best time possible on your trip. It is important to know that while your trip leader has the best job in the world, they aren’t actually on holidays, but rather they are there to make sure you have the best time while you are on your holiday! Your trip leader may at times need some time out so that they can complete back of house tasks that ensure everyone continues to enjoy the trip. It is also your trip leaders’ job to handle any issues (heaven forbid!) that come up while you’re on your trip like:

  • If you lose your passport or other travel documents
  • If there is a problem with your room at the booked accommodation – seriously please tell your trip leader don’t wait until you leave
  • If you become unwell and need to find a pharmacy
  • Assisting with restaurant recommendations or additional sightseeing during free time
  • Questions regarding the itinerary

Your trip leader will have some good local knowledge about the destination in which you are traveling, however they are not a ‘local guide’. You’re welcome to ask your trip leader anything about the trip and if they don’t know they will find out and get back to you. Other people you will meet along the way are ‘local guides’ who are generally available to the group in specific towns or at specific sites like national parks, temples or archaeological sites. These people are the local experts and will be able to answer any questions you may have about the history and culture of a specific site.

Itinerary disclaimer

This itinerary is correct at the time of upload to our website and we have composed it in good faith. From time to time we may elect to make changes before departure, if we are making a big change we will of course notify you, however if it is a small change this will be reflected in the final trip notes. So, make sure you download these prior to departure. Small changes prior to departure are usually made with the groups best interests in mind and come about due to liaising with our best resources – our past travelers and of course our trip leaders! The ability to change and evolve depending on what our travelers enjoy is what makes us such a great trip operator.

While we strive to operate our trips exactly to the letter of the itinerary, sometimes we may need to make changes on the ground while the group is on the road. This is all part of the adventure of traveling and we would ask that you come on your trip with an open mind and a good sense of humour because as much as we want it to, everything doesn’t always go to plan. In fact, these impromptu situations often make the best stories that you can have a laugh with your friends about later.

** This itinerary is run in conjunction with our partners at Enticing Destinations **

Age requirements

Minimum Age: 16 years

We do not recommend bringing young children on this trip due to the remoteness of some of the destinations visited.

There is no upper age limit for this trip but you should consider the above fitness requirements prior to booking. If you are 65 years or over you will be asked to complete our Health Check Form and have your medical practitioner sign it to confirm you are good health and able to participate safely on this trip.

Travel insurance

Please note that comprehensive travel insurance is a condition of travel with Inverted Atlas. Insurance must include provision for medical situations, emergency medical repatriation to your home country and personal liability at a minimum. Proof of valid travel insurance will be requested by your trip leader on arrival at the pre-departure meeting. Please have this paperwork available for them. If you are unable to provide proof of comprehensive travel insurance, you may not be allowed to join the trip and no refund will be payable.

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